Amy Roberts: Fifty shades of fiction
February 17, 2015
If my nose isn’t in someone else’s business, it’s usually in a book. I read a lot. I read mostly for what I call my three E’s: escape, entertainment and education. But last year, a fourth "E" — eroticism — unintentionally got added to that list when my book club selected the "Fifty Shades of Grey" series for our monthly selection.
Normally in my book club, the only question we ever ask is "Red or white?" You could be completely illiterate and come to our meetings and we wouldn’t notice. We don’t have highly intellectual conversations about the latest novel — but boy, can we put down some wine.
So it was a bit unusual when we actually had a discussion about "Fifty Shades of Grey." Granted, the questions weren’t exceptionally philosophical. They were more like, "Um, have YOU tried that?!" and, "How do you think that works?" But regardless, the books got us talking. Mostly, I just mused about how grateful I was to have a Kindle, so nobody on the airplane or at the gym could see what I was reading.
Now that the first book in the series is a movie, a whole lot of people are talking about it again. For the most part, if a book I’ve read turns into a movie, I almost never see it. The book is always better and I hate devoting two hours of my life, and a tub of buttered popcorn to my waistline, for what I know will be disappointment in the end. And in this case, I had no desire to see the movie that was released last weekend because the books were pretty terrible — so I could only assume the movie wasn’t going to get any Oscar nods.
That said, you can’t really escape the discussion. The movie raked in (or, more appropriately, whipped up) nearly $82 million over the weekend, the second-highest February debut ever. In short, movie theaters were packed with people seeking $8 worth of guilty pleasure.
The only thing bigger than the ticket sales is the amount of controversy surrounding the film. The Internet is filled with articles and blogs and commentary about all the dangerous messages this movie sends to viewers, in particular, young women. In fact, there are over 10 million articles devoted to the "evils" of this movie. With everyone from sex therapists to feminists to preachers weighing in, imploring people to stay away. To hear them tell it, this film will have you believing if you haven’t been chained up, beat up, or slapped into submission, you don’t know what good sex is.
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Frankly, I don’t understand the uproar. That’s not the message I got from the books. Quite frankly, I didn’t get a message at all. Why? Because it’s fiction. It’s made up. Anastasia and Christian are not real people. So why are we talking about them like they are our neighbors?
I can’t speak for the movie since I didn’t see it, but assuming it follows the book, yeah, there are some explicit sex scenes. Bondage, dominance, S&M and some really bad dialogue fill the pages.
And it’s all fake. It’s just as fake as a book about vampires or zombies.
Proof it’s fake: main character Christian Grey is a 27-year-old billionaire who, of course, looks like a Calvin Klein model. How many 27-year-olds do you know who rival Warren Buffett’s bank account? OK, Mark Zuckerberg, but he’s not jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Also, for their first date, Christian picks Anastasia up in a helicopter. That only happens on "The Bachelor."
Maybe I don’t get the controversy because the entire thing is so far-fetched to me. If I told the guy I’m dating now I felt I needed to be "disciplined," he would look at me like I’d just sprouted another head and he would probably say, "Aren’t you the same person who violently shook her fist and threatened Congressional action when you got a parking ticket?" Generally speaking, I have a difficult time with discipline. About as difficult a time as I have with people who take a silly movie way too seriously.
Relax people, it’s Fifty Shades of Fiction.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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